With the Cosmos and Rayo OKC finally making moves last week, all existing clubs in the NASL, minus Puerto Rico, have finally added new faces to their rosters. Here’s a summary of how the second week of January changes went (plus a few Carolina notes we missed in week one).
The NASL announced that they had ceased the operation of the Atlanta Silverbacks for the 2016 season and possibly (most likely) beyond. With the trouble this club has experienced and MLS on the horizon, it’s unlikely they’ll return.
Nazmi Albadawi re-signed with the Railhawks. The 24-year-old midfielder received a multi-year contract with the Railhawks after starting 23 of his 24 appearances for the year and tallying six goals and three assists. He has factored in heavily since joining the senior team in 2014 with 20 starts in 25 games and four goals.
Matt Watson, a former Railhawk between 2008 and 2011, signed with the club. The 31-year-old English midfielder helped the club to success with an NASL Conference title in the USSF D-2 league and an NASL regular season title in 2011. He joins after spending the last two seasons with the Chicago Fire where he made 40 appearances and scored a goal.
Signing announcements from the previous week that we missed:
2015 Silverback Paul Black, an English defender, signs after making 29 appearances for the Atlanta side. He played in England’s League One and League Two, making 75 appearances among multiple clubs.
Marvin Ceballos joins after spending last season with Indy. The midfielder scored two goals in twelve appearances in 2015 and played for Comunicaciones of Guatemala for three seasons prior.
Billy Schuler signs after spending 2015 with Whitecaps FC II of the USL. The forward made 26 appearances, scoring two goals. He spent 2014 with the Earthquakes and the two seasons prior to that with Hammarby of Sweden.
The Eddies got active again, bringing Canadian international Nik Ledgerwood back home. The 31-year-old midfielder spent his time since 2004 overseas, primarily in the German second and third divisions, with a stint at Hammarby in between. He joins from Energie Cottbus of the German third division, who he spent a year and a half with, making 25 appearances in the 2015-2016 season. He’s also made four appearances in the current round of World Cup qualifiers.
Jamaican international Lovel Palmer signed with the club. The 31-year-old defender is versatile and able to play multiple positions. Palmer spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Fire, making 52 appearances and scoring a goal. He spent the last six seasons in MLS with Chicago, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, and Houston Dynamo. He holds a green card and will not occupy an international spot.
Indy picked up their second player from the league runners-up Ottawa Fury, grabbing center back Colin Falvey on a transfer. The Irish national occupies their third international spot after spending last season with the Fury and starting every match. He spent the previous five seasons with the Charleston Battery and becoming captain and brings experience from this time in Ireland, New Zealand, and India.
The Armada signed Junior Sandoval, a 25-year-old Honduran attacking mid after a stint with Jaguares de Cordoba of the Colombian Primera A. He made 14 appearances and scored a goal while there. Sandoval is no stranger to the NASL spending 2014 with the Silverbacks and scoring seven goals in his 24 appearances. He also played with the Puerto Rico Islanders and made 13 appearances for CD Marathon of Honduras.
Jamie Watson signed a contract extension with Minnesota. The 29-year-old midfielder returns to the Loons, spending the last eight months recovering from an ACL tear after only four games in the 2015 season. Watson has been a member of the club since 2014 when he made 17 appearances. He spent 2009 – 2013 with Orlando City of USL with a short loan to United in 2012.
First, came the re-signings of Rafael Alves and Paulo Junior. 30-year-old Brazilian center back Alves played every match of the season with four goals, an assist, a spot in the Best XI, and consecutive trips to the Soccer Bowl. Paulo Junior, a 26-year-old forward, scored 4 goals, had four assists, and also factored heavily last season across 29 games.
The Fury also signed Jonny Steele, a 29-year-old attacking midfielder from Northern Ireland. Steele saw only a handful of appearances last season with Minnesota, but made 50 appearances with the Red Bulls over the previous two seasons.
Next up was Kyle Porter, who played the Silverbacks last season. The 26-year-old made 29 appearances for Atlanta, scoring twice after splitting 2014 between DC United and the Richmond Kickers.
Onua Thomas Obasi joined from the USL champion Rochester Rhinos. The 27-year-old English left back spent two seasons with them making 44 appearances, and helped keep goals against to a USL-low 15 goals in 2015.
Rich Balchan, a 26-year-old right back, spent last season with the Tampa Bay Rowdies making 15 appearances and spent two seasons with Real Salt Lake prior.
Their last signing of the week was 27-year-old English midfielder James Bailey. Bailey played for Pune City FC of the Indian Super League, but also spent time with Barnsley of League One in 2015. He spent several years between the Championship and League Two prior to this.
The same day as Bailey’s signing, Ottawa announced the transfer of Colin Falvey to Indy.
Rayo announced three signings in one day, just over a week after the announcement of Alen Marcina as head coach.
Sebastian Velasquez joined from NYCFC. The 24-year-old midfielder made 12 appearances with them and spent the previous three seasons with the Real Salt Lake organization.
Wellington Paeckart (aka Pecka) is a Brazilian holding mid joining from Real Salt Lake. The 25-year-old Brazilian spent the four seasons prior to that with the Strikers.
Lastly, was Rauwshan McKenzie, a 2015 Silverback. The 24-year-old defender made 29 appearances for Atlanta, adding one goal.
So there you have it. Every team has begun adding new faces including, finally, the Cosmos. But, in my opinion, the Cosmos need to hustle. Minnesota and Tampa Bay have made some pretty solid moves and Miami is looking pretty good, too. The Cosmos are linked to some interesting players, but they’ll need to find someone special to replace the influences lost by Marcos Senna and Raul and the prowess of players like Leo Fernandes and Walter Restrepo.
Good activity again this week in NASL as clubs really start to gear up for the preseason.
Solid moves for Ottawa, especially bringing back Alves since they were losing Falvey. Losing both CBs would have been a very tough blow for the league’s best defense last year. It will be interesting to see what Jonny Steel has to offer the Fury as well.
Solid moves by Carolina and they should be delighted to bring back the very strong Naz Albadawi. He has shown a lot of potential and has been a great contributor to the Railhawks. Very good things coming from the new ownership in Cary.
It will be interesting to see how Sandoval gels with the forwards of Jacksonville. Their attack is dangerous with Barrett, Keita and Johnson and having him playing in the middle could be a nice addition.
Rayo is starting to fill out a roster and McKenzie is a player we know can make an impact.
As for the Cosmos, i think the Jairo Arrieta signing is the most intriguing because of the ongoing struggle putting the ball in the back of the net. This team is very deep in the midfield position but right now are still thin up front. It seems like very year a new striker comes in and fans dream he is the answer, but since the reboot started, there has not been a golden boot contender up front for the Cosmos.
Michael Lahoud is an interesting signing as he joins a crowded midfield that will be interesting to watch take shape as preseason moves on.
More games start soon enough!